Starting in 2022, a select few MLB standouts have the chance to wear an additional piece of hardware on their uniforms, and the New York Yankees are lucky enough to have a first baseman who’s been thusly honored.
Anthony Rizzo, coming off a successful second-half cameo in 2021, re-upped with the Yankees in mid-March after a three-month lockout, and has started off the 2022 season red hot against both righties and lefties. Maybe it has something to do with the headwear.
Rizzo, one of the league’s preeminent good guys, is one of eight active Roberto Clemente Award winners in the league. The annual award, distributed during the World Series in recognition of exceptional character and community involvement, has honored Clemente’s commitment to service since 1973, when the Commissioner’s Award was renamed in No. 21’s honor.
Now, for 2022 and beyond, that honor will come with an additional bauble.
Rizzo, a proud winner back in 2017, now gets to sport a circled Clemente patch on the back on his Yankee cap.
He took to Twitter on Wednesday to express how proud he is to be able to carry on the Pirates star’s legacy in a unique way, as the 50th anniversary of Clemente’s tragic death approaches at the end of the 2022 season.
New York Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo has a charitable streak and a Roberto Clemente patch to be proud of
Rizzo has previously commented on earning the award, calling the honor just as meaningful as any he’s received during his storied career.
"“The Roberto Clemente Award is easily the best award I’ve won in my career,” Rizzo said. “Just representing him, having that recognition of his number on the forefront of a lot of players’ hats throughout the league will be will be in his honor. It’s very deserving because he served everyone else.”"
Rizzo will continue to symbolically serve Clemente every time he takes the field in 2022 (and likely beyond), but his charitable streak certain extends beyond an article of clothing.
The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation has done wonders for children with cancer, established in the wake of Rizzo’s own difficult cancer battle in the early days of his professional career with the Red Sox.
From their “Rizzo Walk Off” to the first baseman’s visits to local hospitals (both scheduled and unscheduled), Riz has been a pillar of every community he’s ever belonged to.
Rizzo has long strived to demonstrate how big a difference a star athlete can make in the lives of the less fortunate, in much the same way Clemente established 50 years prior, a compulsion to serve society that eventually cost him his life.
Though Paul O’Neill’s Yankees No. 21 is being retired this August, Rizzo’s No. 21 can still reign, meaning far more in the grand scheme of things.